Are you interested in 3D sublimation and want to know more about this printing technique?
Just read the answers to the Frequently Asked Questions we receive every day about 3D sublimation!
WHAT IS 3D SUBLIMATION?
3D sublimation is a printing technique that involves transferring the colours onto the workpiece using a special process that takes advantage of heat. In particular, the customer’s design is first printed onto a film developed by Indeco using a special digital printer. Subsequently, the colours are transferred to the object after it spends time in high-temperature ovens.
The term “3D” stands for “3 dimensions”: this is the great added value created by the sublimation offered by Indeco Serigrafia the ability to print on any shape, even the most complex. To get the most out of 3D sublimation, customers need to let our graphics department take a look at the decoration to be printed, in order to align the graphics to this printing technique and achieve maximum results.
WHAT ARE THE STRENGTHS OF 3D SUBLIMATION?
The main strength of 3D sublimation is that it is able to transfer a four-colour digital photograph onto a workpiece with absolute precision that is in no way comparable to other printing techniques.
Another advantage of 3D sublimation is great colour fastness on plastic, glass and metal. In the case of plastic objects, during sublimation, the colour penetrates inside the plastic material, effectively making it impossible to remove it without scratching the plastic. Thanks to this process, plastic objects printed using the sublimation technique, such as cutlery, can be washed several times and withstand wear over time.
Colour fastness is retained even in glass objects: the glass workpiece is first painted and then, using 3D sublimation, the colours are transferred within the paint itself. In other words, with the heat, the paint will incorporate the colours internally. The paints applied on the glass for sublimation are specifically created to achieve these results.
Last but not least, one of the strengths of 3D sublimation that stands out is its extreme flexibility during the production phase. This printing technique does not need printing plants or cliché. This means that it is not a problem to print either a limited number of objects or a series of thousands of workpieces. Thanks to the sublimation process, each piece can be printed differently to the next belonging to the same series.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS OF 3D SUBLIMATION?
The main limitation of 3D sublimation is the heat. This printing technique requires a temperature of about 140 degrees centigrade and, of the plastics currently on the market, only nylon is able to resist this temperature without deformation. For plastic objects with relatively simple shapes, Indeco Serigrafia is able to find a printing solution with a maximum temperature of 120 degrees centigrade.
Another weak point of 3D sublimation is the difficulty in reproducing straight lines on non-planar surfaces, due to the very characteristics of this printing technique. This limitation can be a problem in the case of printing a logo or text on complex surfaces, which can be printed using other techniques such as screen printing and pad printing.
As already mentioned, in order to minimise this problem, customers are asked to let our graphics department take a look at the design for the decoration, in order to adapt the sublimation technique and achieve the best possible results.
3D sublimation lends itself more to large-scale serial printing on plastic objects, where the process can be automated, thus reducing costs, or to small lots and niche production. The fully-automated process will offset the cost of this type of printing, generally higher than with other techniques.
IN WHAT INDUSTRIES IS 3D SUBLIMATION USED?
3D sublimation is rarely found in the cosmetics sector, mainly because the plastics used in this area cannot withstand the temperatures reached during printing.
There is greater reliance on 3D sublimation in the field of plastic cutlery, in which the large-scale serial production makes it possible to print a considerable number of pieces at a low cost.
WHAT ARE THE MOST DIFFICULT WORKPIECES TO USE THE 3D SUBLIMATION TECHNIQUE ON?
Thanks to the characteristics of 3D sublimation described above, it is possible to print on almost any object. One of the most complex glass shapes is the skull, which features concave and convex surfaces with different angles. One of the most difficult shapes printed on metal was a coffee pot.
Indeco Serigrafia never tires of repeating that the secret of excellent 3D sublimation is the initial care taken with the design, which must be submitted to our graphics department and adapted to overcome to the problems of this printing technique.
WHEN AND WHY DO WE ADVISE CUSTOMERS ASKING FOR 3D SUBLIMATION TO USE OTHER PRINTING TECHNIQUES?
We generally advise customers to resort to printing techniques other than 3D sublimation in order to limit costs. One example is a cylindrical object that requires two-colour printing. In this case, it is more convenient for the customer to print using screen printing, a technique that ensures high print quality but at a more sustainable price.
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